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Showing posts from 2016

Happy 2017

Happy New Year. Dear Readers (both of you), may 2017 bring you opportunities to shine, people who will truly value that light, lots to laugh about, ideas to inspire you, activities to fuel your passions, new things to learn, enough money to meet your needs and to treat others, moments to melt your heart and restore your faith, and come this time next year may you look back with pride.
On a less positive note, 2017 is set to be a difficult year of world politics for many - so lets treat this as a challenge to deepen and (in some cases) create community to support those being ill-treated, to devise innovative ways to help people when assorted governments abandon their responsibilities to do so, and a time to think of new and practical ways for the world to run instead of just doing the same old shit century after century. Incidentally, I don't just mean people thousands of miles away whose suffering becomes picturesque by benefit of distance, but also the people who li…

Merry midwinter

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The longest night holds sway as we are once again halfway out of the darkness. I have been working on a Yuletide poem for several years, in dribs and drabs - usually adding a verse and then getting sidetracked and forgetting about it again for another year. I thought I would post it here as a work in progress, in the hope that it will help to keep it in focus for me and I might actually finish it!
It's a narrative poem inspired by Russian folklore of Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) but with elements of Irish lore worked in, for no more sensible reason than that the story is flowing in that direction.



Post-Pooka

November 5th was our seventh annual Pooka's Pagaeant, a day-long performing arts event celebrating pagan mythology and legend through story, poetry, song etc. The day was a challenging one, not least because two of the performers pulled out due to illness so their places in the programme had to be filled with last minute turns. The audience was not a large one, though it was a very friendly and engaged one.
We had the remarkably talented harpist Shani Liz Wyman travel up from the far west to perform a series of beautiful pieces on two harps which her late husband had crafted for her. It was a very inspiring performance and the interludes between each instrumental, where Liz introduced the piece and spoke about both her life and inspirations, were both moving and informative.
The replacement activities for the unwell performers seemed to go down fairly well, with one set of poetry readings and another discussion on how the arts can be used to help create community in paganism (whic…

Halloween 2016

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A final story for the season. As I have recorded this tonight, on Samhain, I've aspired to a more traditional flavour in keeping with both the old Gaelic festivities but also the traditions of the Cree who occupied Nova Scotia before the Scots went there. It's a gentler tale than some of the previous ones, and a reminder that the dead whom we honour do not always have to be of our own kind.
I had thought about doing a werewolf story, but this one presented itself to my consciousness as more suited for tonight. Perhaps the wolves will emerge from the woods again next year instead!
As I've rather flooded this blog with stories of late, I'll take a break and add other things instead for a while - reflections, poetry etc.

Mirror, Mirror

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Another tale for the Halloween season, this one about a man who wants to redecorate his bed-sit (which is probably a horrible enough prospect in itself). Apologies about the ending - it was meant to be somewhat more explanatory, but for some reason my brain decided to be pretentious and stop where it did. Maybe I'll record a better version in the future.

Put down the pastie

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Another rather revolting tale for the ghoulish season, this one inspired by the Ancient Greek saga of King Erysichthon, who makes the unwise mistake of grievously offending the goddess Demeter by destroying her trees (a timely warning for so many of us in the modern world... and maybe it explains many of the western world's health concerns?)
This story was also going to be performed at the Seven Deadly Stories performance that had been planned for this Saturday, but which had to be postpone. I had said in a previous post about doing a YouTube version - so consider this a partial fulfillment of that notion.


Vile vegetables

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A tale recorded for Halloween. Will try and add at least one more before the day in question. Apologies to any gardeners for horticultural mistakes - I'm sure there are many.


Deadly doings

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I had been planning on marking Halloween with a somewhat ambitious storytelling performance based around the Seven Deadly Sins, drawing on world mythology for an appropriate story for each sin. However, lack of time to properly promote such an event (in all honesty, I am dismally bad at publicising much of anything) and a general feeling of being a bit frazzled has led me to postpone this till early next year. It was going to be a fund raiser for the UK Wolf Trust, so I shall have to come up with some alternative option for that.

I may upload some stories and see if I can work out a way for viewers to donate to  the charity accordingly (though it sounds all a bit technical... I miss the days when you could just pass the hat round at the end of the evening).

In the meantime, here is a prattle I recorded about the Seven Sins for the PF virtual moot. Not a subject that many would regard as overly relevant to pagan viewers, but this is my spin on the matter.



World Poetry Day

Yesterday was World Poetry Day, so I started something but - what with teaching evening classes and one thing ad another - fell asleep before posting it. So, a day late, but here is an offering of sorts. Some readers might feel it ought to be a burnt offering, which wouldn't surprise me as I'm not a fan of blank verse. Too often it's a euphemism for badly written meanderings. So at least this is in keeping with the general quality! Not entirely sure on a title... maybe Digital Deities?



City of death

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Whilst exploring Sicily we went to the cemetery at Pozzallo to lay flowers for relatives. I had just assumed it would look rather like a British cemetery, and was intrigued to find out that it was much more akin to an ancient Roman burial ground. There wasn't a patch of grass to be seen, but (in the richer areas) a whole series of mausoleums with varying degrees of elaborate detail some of which had to be seen to be believed. I'm told that some families spend more on their tombs than on their houses.
These works of art are laid out in Roman grid-style, roads lined with houses for the dead, at once beautiful and boastful - declarations of the status and grandeur of both the ancestors and their survivors. Many are heavily influenced in their design by classical architecture, and given that each contain altars (with statues of the Virgin, various saints etc.) along with the names and icons of the lost generations, and receptacles for the offerings of flowers, these are each fund…

Lost in translation

Over the summer I spent a week holidaying in Sicily - the first time I have been on a plane in about 30-ish years. My brain has been rather all over the place since getting back, and it has taken me a while to marshal my thoughts sufficiently to share the experience. There are a number of different angles I shall approach over the next few posts.
We met up with many relatives and friends of Francesco, and dined out a great deal. At one particularly impressive meal I was asked to conclude the evening with a story. Only a small number of the people at table spoke any English, and I currently have only about a dozen words of Italian. So the story of Pomona and Vertumnus was conveyed by a combination of Francesco's translation of my words, a sprinkling of what little Italian I do know, and even more body language than usual.
Edward Sapir claimed that language shapes thought (a concept now known as linguistic relativity)- people thinking in Dutch will do so very differently from someon…

Animal Rites

Essays

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Went to a book swap last night and picked up a copy of a 2013 anthology to which I had quite forgotten I had contributed a chapter. There are some excellent essays in here on all manner of subjects by people such as Morgan Daimler, Emma Restall Orr, Lucya Starza, and Brendan Myers - so it's well worth a read. If you fancy a copy, you can order it in via any bookshop or (if you can't get to any bookshops) on-line retailers.
My own contribution is a rather basic reflection on the development of polytheist psychology.

Baaling out

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There's a chap who lives a few streets away from me and whom I sometimes bump into whilst walking the hounds. He is always very pleasant and seems well informed on many issues. He's also a devout Christian (not sure which denomination), and often talks about religious matters. Recently he spoke to me about the destruction of antiquities by Daesh in what is now Islamic State territory. He sympathised about how horrified I must be by their historical loss, but then suddenly said that - as some of the temples were associated with "Baal worship" - maybe their loss was a good thing as it would save people from being tempted into devoting themselves to Baal.
It was an awkward moment where I wondered whether to laugh, cry, or rage. By the time I'd made up my mind, he'd already gone on his way. I don't even know where to really begin with this sentiment - it is horrifying when members of one religion crow about the destruction of the sites sacred to another, more…